Digestive problems related to mold exposure are not as common as some other mold sickness symptoms, like allergic reactions and respiratory problems, but exposure to household mold can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding in the intestinal tract, intestinal cramping, and the development of bacterial and yeast infections in the intestinal tract. Mold is most likely to affect the digestive system when mold is ingested, such as if you eat spoiled food. However, mold spores can also be inhaled and harmful substances called mycotoxins that are produced by mold can be absorbed through the skin, and these things can also affect the digestive system.
Most often, people that develop mold-related health problems are exposed to mold in their own homes. However, agricultural workers may also be exposed to mold on the job, especially types of mold that can lead to gastrointestinal problems.
If you’re having gastrointestinal problems, see your primary care physician. Let your doctor know if you’ve been exposed to mold or think your symptoms might be caused by mold exposure. Make sure to let your doctor know if you’re experiencing any other symptoms of mold exposure, like coughing, sneezing, headaches, sore throats, shortness of breath, rashes or hives.
Because so many things can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including viruses, parasites, food poisoning, ulcers, food allergies and sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease, it can take some time for a doctor to figure out what’s causing your gastrointestinal problems and whether or not it’s due to mold exposure. Your doctor may order some tests to help make a diagnosis, such as blood tests, an upper GI x-ray (an x-ray taken while you drink a liquid called barium), a CT scan, an abdominal ultrasound, an endoscopy and/or colonoscopy (a procedure in which a doctor examines your digestive tract with a tiny camera while you are sedated), and laboratory analysis of a stool sample. You may be referred to a gastroenterologist, a doctor specializing in digestive problems, for some of these tests or for treatment of certain gastrointestinal conditions.
Treatment, of course, depends on the symptoms you’re experiencing, the severity of your symptoms and on the results of any diagnostic tests your doctor orders. You may need medication to relieve pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. If vomiting or diarrhea has been severe, you may need intravenous fluids to treat dehydration. You may need antibiotics or medication to treat a yeast infection. If you’ve been experiencing intestinal bleeding, you might even need a blood transfusion.
If you’re experiencing other mold-related health problems, such as respiratory problems, you’ll need treatment for those problems, as well.
Of course, you’ll also need to prevent further exposure to mold. If you continue to be exposed to mold, you’ll probably continue to experience mold sickness symptoms, even with treatment.
To prevent further exposure to mold, you’ll need to have all traces of mold removed from your home. We recommend scheduling a free consultation and mold inspection with an experienced mold remediation professional. A professional can assist you with the job of removing mold from your home if you choose, but even if you plan to do the work yourself, you can benefit from some free expert advice on the matter. Follow this link to find qualified professionals offering free consultations and mold inspections in your area.
If you think you were exposed to mold in the workplace, talk with your physician about safety measures you can take in the future. Speak with the safety officer at your work, as well, or whoever is in charge of employee health and safety issues there. You can also contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor (OSHA) for more information or for assistance dealing with workplace health issues.